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Visualization of the International Organization Network

The UIA as an international data bank (Part #1)


The most probable assumption is that every single one of the old demarcations, disciplines and faculties is going to become obsolete and a barrier to learning as well as to understanding. The fact that we are shifting from a Cartesian view of the universe, in which the accent has been on parts and elements, to a configuration view, with the emphasis on wholes and patterns, challenges every single dividing line between areas of' study and knowledge. (P.F. Drucker, The Age of Discontinuity; guidelines to our changing society.) [1]

A French version of this article was published in the journal Syntheses (June 1970). English, French, Dutch, German, Italian and Spanish versions appeared in the series Textes et Documents published by the Ministhre des Affaires Etranghres et du Commerce Exterieur of the Belgian Government.  It also appeared in a document entitled Union of International Associations 1910-1970: Past, Present, Future (Brussels, UIA, 1970) and in International Associations, 22, 1970, pp. 265-281 [PDF version]. [Also a French version and available in PDF image-file versions in English, Dutch, French, German, Spanish]
Introduction
Organization complexity
Network concept
Subject complexity
Functional complexity
Consequences of complexity
The UIA Inter-Contact System
Immediate applications
Future developments
Conclusion
References

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Introduction

Since its creation in 1910, the idea governing the programmes of the Union of International Associations (UIA) has been to use information in such a way as to maintain and disseminate a comprehensive overall view of world society "une perspective d'ensemble". This has always meant remaining open to information from every sector of human activity across ideological and other barriers - a stance which is in itself extremely rare in a period of increasing specialization. The amount of information quickly created pressure to concentrate not on the documents produced - a static focus on the past but on the producers of the documents and programmes - a dynamic focus on the present and potential future. This then led the UIA to concentrate on international bodies - both governmental and nongovernmental - as the potential focal points for the coordination of activity or the exchange of information, and thus the key to a balanced view of world society.

The information collected was first made available in the Yearbook of International Organisations [2] and other publications and this procedure has been continued since the Second World War [3]. Since 1945, however, two significant trends have developed to the point where an entirely new look at the UIA's role and possibilities is necessary.

The first of these is the considerable increase in the amount and degree of interrelatedness of the information necessary to an adequate "vue d'ensemble", for which the traditional manual documentalist approach is almost completely inadequate. These developments and some associated social problems are explored in the next sections together with UIA plans for a computer-based information centre. The second is the incredible development in the technology of information processing and computers which not only offers the key to the solution of the UIA.'s traditional difficulties, but also opens up exciting vistas of totally unsuspected and much more powerful methods of conveying the "vue d'ensemble" in a more dynamic integrated way. It suggests means of using this perspective more skillfully as one key to many important problems in society. Some of these possibilities are explored in later sections. to many important problems in society. Some of these possibilities are explored in later sections.


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